Children's alliance seeks urgent ratification of adoption accord


THE CHILDREN’S Rights Alliance has called for the urgent ratification by Ireland of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions in the light of the lapsing of a bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam.

It said a recent Vietnamese government’s report on adoption “makes for worrying reading” and expressed concern that the adoption system can fall foul to criminal activity. The alliance is a coalition of over 90 non-governmental organisations campaigning on children’s rights in Ireland.

“The Children’s Rights Alliance acknowledges the personal stress and upset that any change in inter-country adoption procedures has on prospective adoptive parents,” its chief executive Jillian van Turnhout said in a statement.

“Adoption is a pathway to realising a child’s right to grow up in a family. When discussing adoption, we rightly focus on the story of prospective adoptive parents, but often we lose sight of the fact that adoption is about children, their rights and needs,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the adoption system can fall foul to criminal activity, including corruption and the sale or trafficking of children. It is thus critical that a rigorous verification process be put in place for all adoptions. At present, the Irish adoption system has different levels of safeguards for national and international adoptions.

“The Adoption Bill 2009, currently before the Dáil, will enable Ireland to ratify the Hague Convention and standardise our adoption system. The passage of the Bill must be prioritised to ensure that children are adequately protected within the adoption system,” she said. She added that the Hague Convention required that states ensure the best interests of the child be paramount in any adoption procedure and the parents or legal guardians have given their consent on the basis of such counselling as may be necessary.

She also pointed out that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its 2006 report on Ireland, observed the legislation did not fully correspond to international standards, particularly with respect to protection in intercountry adoptions and did not take the best interests of the child into consideration. The UN committee recommended that Ireland “expedite its efforts to enact and implement the legislative reforms, ensure that all relevant legislation is in conformity with international standards, and that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration”.

The Adoption Bill, which will reform Irish adoption legislation and enable the ratification of the Hague Convention, has passed in the Seanad and will be debated in the Dáil in the coming weeks.